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Old 07-29-2020, 03:14 PM   #21
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When my mom passed in CA, I was already listed on her checking and savings accounts as a joint account holder; for the investment and retirement accounts, I was the sole beneficiary. These all passed outside of probate. So the only thing that went through probate was her house and one piano. So, if you're 100% sure that she has no other assets, then you may be okay without a will. The will did help me in filing her last taxes, and in claiming a death benefit from the state of CA. Just make sure nothing is overlooked! A simple will, though, is better than nothing if any unknown assets are found later. I used Nolo software's Willmaker software.
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Old 07-29-2020, 03:48 PM   #22
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One thing we ran into an Dad's estate was an undisclosed checking account. One "helpful" B of A Vice President (account manager) opened an account for him with a few thousand. It was in Dad's personal name & not the trust. Dad was in the middle stages of Alzheimers. That took a bit to clear up because B of A was so unhelpful.

In your case the kicker would be no beneficiary designated. I'm not sure how you find a "secret" account though
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Old 07-29-2020, 04:20 PM   #23
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I'm not sure how you find a "secret" account though
Only way I can think of is to wait a while then check with the escheat offices in all of the states where the person lived.

See for example:

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/ans...d-property.asp
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Old 07-29-2020, 04:26 PM   #24
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Only way I can think of is to wait a while then check with the escheat offices in all of the states where the person lived.

See for example:

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/ans...d-property.asp
Two ways, 1 look at the last tax return filed and see if banks are listed, and/or see if 1099s where kept, else wait until the next years 1099s arrive,
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Old 07-29-2020, 04:44 PM   #25
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Michigan has a statutory will. Fill in a few blanks, check some boxes and get two witnesses and you are done. I don't know if other states have something like this. http://bloomlawfirm.com/sites/blooml...utory-Will.pdf
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Old 07-29-2020, 04:50 PM   #26
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Two ways, 1 look at the last tax return filed and see if banks are listed, and/or see if 1099s where kept, else wait until the next years 1099s arrive,
Good thoughts, although checking accounts often don't send 1099's these days as interest is typically under $10 a year.

Going through the deceased person's mail and email and paper records might turn accounts up as well.
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Old 07-29-2020, 07:17 PM   #27
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A few years back I had a cousin, single with no children, who came down with terminal cancer. She asked me to be POA to handle her affairs. Her cancer got worse fast and before we knew it she wasn't able to handle her affairs and I stepped in. I got a call one night from a step sister who said she was going to contest my cousin's will because she "deserved it". I knew my cousin did not have a will. She was an only child and told me she wanted everything to go to her mother (her dad had died earlier).


I contacted my own attorney while she was on her death bed and told him about the situation and possible trouble with the step sister. I asked if my cousin should get a will.


The legal advise I was given was that my cousin would be better off to pass without a will, intestate, since it would be very, very difficult for the mean step sister to contest it. Turns out the attorney was right, the contest failed to get started and everything passed to my cousin's mother just like she wanted. This is just an example of a person being better off without a will. I think it is rare, but it can happen.
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Old 07-30-2020, 04:11 AM   #28
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.... Beneficiary designations trump a will or the lack of a will. I have a friend who way back in the 1970's was made $50,000 richer because her very soon-to-be ex-husband did not bother to change his beneficiary designation. $50,000 then is about $250,000 today. Not exactly chump change.
+1 A good friend of mine finally figured out that his low-life gold digger wife was cheating on him and he divorced her. She marries another guy. Second marriage for both of them.

Gold digger's new husband dies unexpectedly. He had never changed the beneficiary of his life insurance policy so his ex gets the death benefit rather than the gold digger. Sweet justice!
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Old 07-30-2020, 06:27 AM   #29
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My late husband had a will and I never bothered having it probated. He was 15 years older and had chronic health issues, the house was in a trust in my name (with liberal provisions to take care of him if I predeceased him), all the investments were in my name (he wanted it that way- I like investing, he thought it was a chore). He had a checking account at B of A with under $300 in it and just before he died we moved the titles to our 2 cars from his name into mine. I was the beneficiary on his IRA.

B of A contacted me after he died (must have tapped into the SS death database) and after some minimal paperwork they gave me the balance in the account.

But, since others here have pointed out possible complications- maybe a simple, DIY will from Legal Zoom or Willmaker?
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Old 07-30-2020, 06:37 AM   #30
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If I were inclined NOT to do a will then I would check my state's Intestacy laws. This is the order of precedence on who (ie which family members) will legally inherit your assets that are not otherwise covered (ie joint ownership, beneficiary etc.).

If you have issues on who these default inheritors are, then you might want to have the will in place.

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Old 07-30-2020, 07:41 AM   #31
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The big thing is to make sure the designations are current and what each policy is, some of them have to be re-verified yearly or they are not valid. I'd also have a printout confirming that.

A large bank told my mother she couldn't get access to my dads brokerage account as it had to go thru probate, she is like I'm a named beneficiary on the account, here is the death certificate. They claimed no beneficiaries were named, she brought in the paperwork proving she was indeed named, they still gave her grief, it was ridiculous and we had to escalate to corporate headquarters to get appropriate action. The bank manager was fired shortly after, I can only hope we contributed to that.
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Old 07-30-2020, 08:02 AM   #32
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As many have noted, it’s very important to keep beneficiaries up to date no matter what else. And often overlooked, self included? Even though the estate was simple ($ accounts, house, car, personal items), my parents had a full blown trust, etc. - made things incredibly easy for sister and I - their final gift to us...
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Old 07-30-2020, 08:03 AM   #33
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I live in Florida so I don't know what applies in other states. I have a will, a revocable trust, as well as have designated beneficiaries on CDs and other cash accounts. When concerned that I would exceed the maxium amount for FDIC coverage I was told by the bank that I could spread the money out with designated beneficiaries to cover the cash under FDIC as well as that money would go to the beneficiaries first regardless of the will or trust. Made me sleep better.


Cheers!
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Old 07-30-2020, 09:02 AM   #34
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These discussions are always head-scratchers for me. A will is such a simple thing and has the potential to prevent problems, I think the question is better stated as "Why should I not have a will?"

It seems to me a liitle like Pascal's wager: It posits that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not. Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God, just in case He does exist. It seems that there is little cost to bet that a will is needed and to prepare one, but potential high cost to believe that one is not needed and be found to be wrong.
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Old 07-30-2020, 09:20 AM   #35
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It's expensive to go through probate in Illinois. Thus, we have a living trust. The tIRA has beneficiaries stated since it is not in the trust. So, if both of us die, all assets to directly to the trust. It was a PITA to set up but worth it for our beneficiaries. IMO, it is also worth it to hire an estate attorney.



Probate in Ill. include:

Court costs;
Legal fees;
Administrator/executor fees; and
Fees of other professionals.
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Old 07-30-2020, 09:27 AM   #36
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My parents both had a will-prepared by a lawyer. They also pre-arranged and prepaid their respective funeral costs w/ their wishes made known.

It was the last kind thing that they did. It made dealing with their deaths, the funeral, and the subsequent estate issues very straightforward.

We had our wills done ten years ago, and revised two years ago. We view it as a living document subject to change. No doubt we will be revising it another one or twice (hopefully).
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Old 07-30-2020, 10:05 AM   #37
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no car.
has a small joint checking account with my brother. Forgot to mention that
If he is joint on the account then it becomes his when she dies. In fact, since he has signatory authority over the account, I wouldn't even both to notify the bank... he can just write a check for the balance to himself and that will be that.
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Old 07-30-2020, 12:20 PM   #38
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If he is joint on the account then it becomes his when she dies. In fact, since he has signatory authority over the account, I wouldn't even both to notify the bank... he can just write a check for the balance to himself and that will be that.
I like that idea!
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Old 07-30-2020, 01:07 PM   #39
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Just keep in mind that the flip side is a joint owner can also do that while you're still alive.the other downside is if the joint owner does something stupid and gets sued and there's a legal judgment against them then that money could be used to satisfy the legal judgment. Not a panacea.
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Is there a need for a Will?
Old 07-30-2020, 03:01 PM   #40
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Is there a need for a Will?

Here’s another reason to have a will.....

You are a very low income person with a net worth of $14.76. Everything you have is junk.

Your old school chum, Billionaire Bill, who you helped in your youth by teaching him about computers, dies on 9/4 leaving you $1,000,000 in appreciation of all you did for him in those early days. That million will be yours as soon as the executor can find you and write the check.

It’s now 9/10. On your way home from Bill’s funeral you plan on seeing a lawyer to have a will drawn up. You never make it. Alas, you fall down, hit your head on a granite statue of the town founder, and bleed out before the EMTs can arrive. DOA at the local hospital.

Who gets the million dollars Bill left you?
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